The World Health Organisation and a number of game publishers have teamed up to launch a campaign that encourages us all to stay indoors and game in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The #PlayApartTogether initiative is a collaborative effort between 18 game industry leaders including Activision Blizzard, Amazon Appstore, Big Fish Games, DirtyBit, Glu Mobile, Jam City, Kabam, Maysalward, Playtika, Pocket Gems, Riot Games, SciPlay, Snap Games, Twitch, Unity, Wooga, YouTube Gaming, and Zynga. Covering everything from mobile gaming to more traditional forms of games playing, the message is clear - stay at home and load up a game.
It's a slightly unusual move for WHO which in the past has been critical of the potential dangers of excessive gaming, even categorising video game addiction as an official mental health disorder, but it makes perfect sense right now.
In a statement, Raymond Chambers, WHO ambassador for global strategy, explained that he hopes the group can 'reach millions with important messages to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.' That message? Stay distanced and wash your hands frequently, while enjoying a game or two from the safety of your home.
Essentially, the concept is part focused on how physical distancing can keep us all safe, but it's also looking at the mental health implications of this pandemic. If you're playing a game with friends, you'll feel less alone which is always a good thing, even more so during this exceptionally tricky time.
Many of the companies involved have issued statements encouraging such support. Activision Blizzard CEO, Bobby Kotick, said, 'it’s never been more critical to ensure people stay safely connected to one another. Games are the perfect platform because they connect people through the lens of joy, purpose and meaning. We are proud to participate in such a worthwhile and necessary initiative.' Backing that thinking up was Nicolo Laurent, CEO of Riot Games, who also pointed out that 'physical distancing shouldn't mean social isolation'.
Besides the general promotion of the benefits of staying indoors and gaming, the #PlayApartTogether campaign will also include 'events, activities, awards, and inspiration'. So far, that's mostly involved free mobile game content for a time, as well as Unity offering up three months of its Unity Learn Premium game development platform. While not officially part of the initiative, we're guessing concepts like World of Warcraft gaining 100 percent bonus experience until late April is the kind of thinking here.
Expect to see content grow over the coming days and weeks as the industry rallies around to make things a little easier for us all.
May 15 2020 | 11:00